Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Black Linen Vali Top

Hello! Long time no blog.

I had considered not mentioning my absence but actually think it is important sometimes to be honest when you've been having a rough patch. So often on the internet everything looks rosy and that makes it more difficult when you’re having a hard time as it can feel like you're the only one who feels that way. I can't remember if I wrote about it on here or just on Instagram at the time but I lost my wonderful Mum to bowel cancer in October. Grief is exhausting, at times overwhelming and sometimes feels a bit like I'm losing my mind as it tries to make sense of what has happened. It can make getting on with 'regular life' and collecting my thoughts challenging. I wanted to bring it up, not so much as an explanation, but more in the hope that it might help someone else who is going through similar to feel less alone. Every grief is different but I know speaking to others who can somewhat understand and seeing others share their experience has been really helpful to me.

My motivation and energy to sew and blog definitely took a dip but over the last couple of months I have actually been doing a fair bit of sewing (I think the arrival of summer here in the UK always inspires me to get stitching). But I've still been lacking the motivation to take photos; that has always been my least favourite part of blogging! I took photos in bulk of quite a few projects today so hopefully that will keep me going for a while and I can get back to the more enjoyable task of writing.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

The first thing I want to share is this Pattern Fantastique Vali Top which I've just finished sewing up in some beautiful deadstock black linen from The Fabric Store. I did consider using a printed rayon fabric but I'm glad I stuck with a solid coloured linen as the structure of the fabric really emphasises the drama of the gorgeous sleeves and I think a print would have hidden some of the lovely details. It is also quite a fiddly sew so I'm glad I picked a stable fabric which presses well for my first attempt.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

I cut a size 10 based on the upper bust measurement as recommended by the pattern and am really pleased with the fit. It is a smock style but I think having a nice neat fit across the yoke helps to balance out the volume elsewhere. I also manged to get the elastic in the sleeve hems the right length for once! For some reason I always end up making slim elastic like this too tight but this is nice and comfy at only a fraction shorter than the measurement around my arm. This is the top version of the pattern (it includes a midi length dress too) and didn't adjust the length at all and used 1.5m of fabric.

I really enjoy using patterns which construct garments differently to methods I usually fall back on and therefore test my brain a little bit. I like to feel like I am learning something new. This pattern definitely tested me! The instructions are written in a different format to a lot of other pattern companies I sew with; more a long list of short bullet points rather than detailed larger steps. They are very thorough but in a way which was perhaps slightly overcomplicated. For example when inserting the ties you sew the seam then unpick a little bit to insert the tie and sew it again...I just pinned the tie in place and sewed it into the seam in one go. Much quicker.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

At first I quite enjoyed the way the instructions jumped around between pattern pieces and did a bit of prep on all of them first as this is quite often the way I like to sew; assembling each element individually so they are all ready to put together as you come to each step. However, after a while I did find myself a bit confused. I was sewing this top in short little bursts here and there when I had the time so perhaps that didn't help.  

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

I found it difficult to get into my usual flow when sewing this, particularly when constructing the neckline which involved lots of small pattern pieces and continuously changing sizes of seam allowance. It has created a beautiful finish but I felt like there was definitely some room for error there. If I make it again I think I might create my own all in one facing for the neckline rather than all those little individual bits. I also got a bit muddled at the point where the diagrams and instructions seemed to indicate that the hem had already been finished in a previous step but I could find no reference to that anywhere. I did think the issues were just my confused brain but a couple of other people mentioned on Instagram that they also found it to be quite a complicated sew.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

One of my least favourite sewing techniques is gathering, yet I seem to be drawn to all the gathered styles at the moment! This pattern approached it slightly differently by giving you the measurements to gather your pieces to before you get to that stage of construction. I quite liked this as securing the ends when it gets to the right length then makes it easy to adjust the density of the gathers to be even. However, I did find I needed to adjust it again anyway when it came to attaching it to the other pieces so don't think it made it easier or saved any time. Next time I think I'll just stick to pinning the ends and centre then gathering it to match the other pattern piece.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Vali Top in black linen from The Fabric Store

Despite the slightly taxing construction it has turned out beautifully and is a style I can see myself wearing a lot. It was actually really nice to tackle something a bit different though as that is definitely one of the things that motivates me to sew. I love the drama of the sleeve and the seventies smock inspired yoke. I'm putting it on my list of things to make again as I'd really like to try the dress version, perhaps in a crisp cotton poplin.

22 comments:

  1. I am so sorry to hear that your Mum passed. It is such a difficult time for the family. I hope your memories provide the comfort needed.
    This is such a beautiful make. Love that others enjoy trying something different and challenging.
    Take care, I look forward to many more posts.

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    1. Thank you for your kind message. We are lucky to have lots of wonderful memories to treasure

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  2. So sorry to hear of your loss - take good care.

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  3. Grief is very different for everyone, flooring me in a way I never expected when I lost my mum - and still does at times. I found I needed to allow myself grace in these moments and not try to push through. Be kind to yourself and try to not fit the norms of grief. Glad you are beginning to find your sewing again. A beautiful top, can’t wait to see the dress version.

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    1. Thank you, that is such brilliant advice. I have been trying to just let things happen as they come, but it is so difficult to manage it around the expectations of every day life sometimes. Sewing has become a place of comfort again at least

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Allow yourself the time to grief and do what feels right for you at the time. Losing my mother two years ago really, and rather unexpectedly, turned my live upside down. I'm glad to hear you're getting back in the swing of things and have started blogging again. I'm usually a lurker but I really enjoy seeing your makes and look forward to seeing more blogs in the future. Best, Marleen

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment Marleen. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. It certainly does turn the world upside down, and in strange ways how and what you think about everything too. I have been trying to go really easy on myself, thank you for your lovely advice and sharing with me

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  5. Thank you for acknowledging your loss, and I am so sorry that you lost your mother. You're right, blogs often picture an unrealistic life, and it's nice to see someone admit it. Your make is lovely! I hope that you continue to heal and sew. Your makes are inspiring!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Sewing has become a place of comfort again so I’m hoping it will help the healing

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  6. I’m sorry you lost your mum last October. Be kind to yourself. Grief takes time and is a process. So glad to see you back and I love your Vail top! Diana

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    1. Thank you Diana. I am trying to go easy on myself. I hope now that I am enjoying sewing again I’ll have lots more to share

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  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your Mum, Fiona. It’s a terrible disease, and I remember losing my Mum to the same thing almost 24 years ago now. I hope your memories are a blessing as you move forward xx
    PS Your top looks beautiful

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    1. O I am so sorry to hear that you lost your Mum to bowel cancer too. It is just so awful. Thank you for your kind words. She blessed me with many wonderful memories so I keep her close through those now

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  8. I am so sorry for your loss. She will always be in your heart.

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  9. Hi Fiona, I'm so sorry to hear your mum passed away. I hope it becomes easier to live with. That occasional feeling of being slapped in the face with a cold wet towel seems to be with me forever.

    Thanks for mentioning why you were not blogging - I was worried about you, with Covid and all. (I'm not an Instagram user.)
    Your top is lovely! Great choice of fabric too. I was surprised to see a garment with so many gathers since you've mentioned that's not your favorite sewing technique 😀 I like those new and challenging projects too - my most recent being pants fitting. Your blogs are always inspiring.

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    1. Gosh that description of the cold wet towel hits the nail right on the head! It is so hard to explain grief to people but that really sums up that wave of feeling when it hits you all over again what has happened. Thank you for kind words and worry about me. I’m very glad I explained now. It is so wonderful to have such a supportive community here on my blog. Sewing people are just wonderful

      And yes I have succumbed to the gathers…can’t say I’ll be rushing to do more any time soon though haha! Good luck with the pants fitting, that seems to be a never ending quest for me

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  10. Love the top and your work is impeccable. Grief is hard, hope you find some solace soon . . .

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  11. I am so sorry about your mum. I read your blog regularly and never comment but my mum passed from ovarian cancer in 2020 and it really took me out. I can wholeheartedly recommend The Loss Foundation, they create support groups of people in similar situations and I found that so helpful. Loads of love to you.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear that you also lost your mum to cancer recently, it is so cruel. I hope you are looking after yourself while you heal. Thank you so much for your suggestion. I will definitely look into that. I definitely felt early on that I would hate a support group but at this point now the thought of being surrounded by people who have experienced similar and being able to talk about it really appeals

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!